Friday, May 19, 2006

Toothless Tigers?

One of the original problems facing the Local Government Ombudsmen was what to do if a Council refused to provide a remedy for maladministration. The Council have always been able to ignore the Ombudsman and the best that the Ombudsman could do was to issue another report.

Over the years the Ombudsmen could have asked the Government to make their findings enforceable in law, however, they chose instead to develop a devious strategy to ensure that the majority of Councils accept their findings.

They just make it easier for a Council to accept their findings than the alternative. Unfortunately, when the only alternative is the threat of a second report it doesn’t leave a lot of manoeuvring room to make their findings more palatable than that.

That’s why an Ombudsman’s award, for a complainant suffering injustice through maladministration, is on average only about £500. Probably a lot less than the cost to the council of publishing a second report.

Can you imagine the uproar if a Judge had to negotiate a prison sentence with the guilty party knowing that they could ignore the sentence if they didn’t like it. That would put the Judge in an impossible position to pass an appropriate sentence. Prison sentences would drop from years to hours overnight.

Can you imagine the uproar if a Traffic warden had to negotiate the price of a parking ticket with the offending party, knowing that they could ignore the ticket if they didn’t like it. Parking fines would drop from £40 to 20p overnight.

Many people suggest that the Ombudsman’s findings should be made mandatory. My question is, why haven’t the Ombudsman asked the Government to give them the statutory powers they need to be effective? They have had the last thirty years to do so. Obviously they must prefer to be toothless tigers.

Now who's the sucker!

No comments:

Post a Comment